A combination of sheer performance, lots of features, premium design, and community-driven software, Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 packs everything to fit perfectly in the lucrative mid-range smartphone market in India.
After being too quiet in the second half of 2015 with no major product launches, Xiaomi has started 2016 with a sequel to its popular Redmi Note series. Redmi Note 3 launched in India during March 2016, thanks to the flash sale model the smartphone is not readily available to purchase. Yet with luck, you can get hold off the smartphone during the weekly flash sale on Amazon India and Mi.com.
Xiaomi has priced the Redmi Note 3 starting from Rs 9,999 for the 16GB variant that comes with 2GB RAM and Rs 11,999 for the 32GB variant that packs 3GB RAM.
So, thinking of getting in the queue for Redmi Note 3? I have been using the mobile for over a month now, so let’s find out what it holds before you make the final decision.
Build and Design
Xiaomi has not sacrificed anything other than spending lots of time perfecting their design. Redmi Note 3 comes with an all metal body that has been touched with sandblasted aluminum and got curved edges. The matte finish on the back offers good grip of the phone on hand.
There is a small raised chrome strip running around the front edges, that helps display from touching the table if placed face down. Similarly, there is a small wedge on the back raising the phone to help sound to escape through the gap between the back speaker unit and flat surface its placed on.
Looking around the device, the front is flat with its 5.5-inch display that got small bezel on the sides. The area over top of the display, we have the earpiece, ambient light sensor, front-facing camera, and notification LED light placed.
Coming to the sides, the right-hand side holds the volume rocker and power standby buttons. On the bottom, there is a micro-USB charging and data transfer port placed on the left edge, which I think would make some people discomfort-able. On the left-hand side, we got the dual SIM card slots and over the top side, we have the 3.5mm audio jack and an infrared blaster, that can control IR home devices like TV.
Adding to the design, side buttons are all metallic with chamfered edges. On the back of the device, we have the main camera module below it the dual LED flash unit and below it, we got the round fingerprint scanner all aligned to be placed in the centre.
Even after carrying a 4050mAh battery on the back the Redmi Note 3 weighs just 164g and having 8.65mm thin profile. So design-wise Redmi Note 3 is a well-crafted device that offers a premium look and feels good in the hand.
The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 flaunts a 5.5-inch full HD IPS LCD display that got a pixel density of 401ppi. The display has great viewing angle (178-degree viewing angle), all the colours on it look natural and got even better outdoor visibility. The display lacks the popular Gorilla Glass protection, but the company claims to offer equivalent protection.
The smartphone carries a couple of display mode, like the Sunlight Display technology that detects ambient light in real time and makes an adjustment at a pixel level taking care of the darker and brighter areas separately. Thus offering a good sunlight legibility by default.
The one display mode I loved is the ‘Reading mode’ that once enabled adjust the amount of blue light emitted from the display that helps in reducing eye strain and discomfort. Even more, the reduced blue light can help you with better sleep at night.
Hardware and Performance
Specification wise, Redmi Note 3 got the perfect chipset and hardware components for a smartphone under 10,000 price range. The smartphone carries a 1.8GHz 64-bit hexacore Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 650 processor with a dual-core Cortex A72 processor and a quad-core Cortex A53 processor. It has been paired with Adreno 510 GPU offering a perfect harmony of power and performance.
Now the confusing part, Redmi Note 3 comes with two variant, one with 2GB dual-channel RAM module and 16GB internal flash storage option and the other comes with 3GB dual-channel RAM module and 32GB internal flash storage option. I got the 3GB RAM/32GB storage variant in hand, so the performance it records may be different from the 2GB RAM/16GB storage variant.
- 5.5-inch full HD display (1920×1080 pixels)
- 1.8GHz hexacore Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 650 processor
- Android v5.1 Lollipop with MIUI 7
- 2GB RAM + 16GB storage/3GB RAM + 32GB storage
- 16MP back camera with LED flash and 5MP front-facing camera
- Fingerprint sensor
- Hybrid card slot
- 4G LTE (FDD-LTE + TD-LTE), 3G, 2G, WiFi, Bluetooth
- 4050mAh battery + Quick charge
I tried the Asphalt 8 -Airborne (on extreme settings) and GTA San Andreas on Redmi Note 3 and the phone didn’t heat up even after 25 minutes of play. There were no lag or frame drops while playing the games and everything works flawlessly. We recommend the 3GB RAM variant of the Redmi Note 3 if you intended to do lots of gaming and multimedia viewing.
Multitasking works great and switching between apps are flawless thanks to its RAM optimization and CPU frequency adjustment built right into the MIUI ROM.
One can expand the storage as the smartphone comes with a hybrid dual SIM Card slot that supports 4G SIM cards, but if used for storage purpose then you are left with one SIM card slot.
On the connectivity side, Redmi Note 3 comes with both FDD-LTE and TD-LTE 4G capability and supports all Indian 4G Bands (B3, B5, B40, B41) including VoLTE. So it will work with every Indian telecom operators 4G network. In addition to 4G the phone supports 3G, 2G network along with dual-band WiFi 802.11 b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1, FM radio and so on.
For added security, a fingerprint sensor is built on the back below the camera module and can pretty quickly unlock the phone (in just 0.3 seconds). You can also use the fingerprint scanner to shoot photographs or even lock apps, which is an added bonus.
Redmi Note 3 lacks in the audio output from the speaker unit, that has been placed on the back. The audio isn’t loud enough and sometimes in less crowded place you even need to cover over the speaker unit to hear the sounds clearly.
On the camera side, the Redmi Note 3 got a 16-megapixel camera on the back that comes with 0.1-second ultra-fast Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF). Image quality during the day on the bright sun or during good lighting conditions is quite good.
But during low-light, the camera almost fails. Captured images lack details, sharpness, and the colours look pale. You will run out of patience as it takes a lot of time to lock focus and HDR mode takes a couple of seconds to process.
Yet the camera can shoot full HD videos (and even 4K videos with third party camera apps) with added time-lapse and slow motion feature. But due to the lack of any sort of stabilization, the recorded videos are shaky.
For selfie photographers, the mobile packs a 5-megapixel camera with f/2.0 aperture and 36 smart beauty profiles.
Redmi Note 3 run on heavily customized Xiaomi’s MIUI 7 on top of Android v5.1 Lollipop operating system. To start with there are four individualized UI designs to make the phone more personalized. There are lots of Indian themes to start from and one has direct access to thousands of free themes, wallpapers, icons and more from the community.
There is adaptive design for every layout with bigger fonts that improve readability. One of the plus points is that Redmi Note 3 is one of the few devices that get’s the regular Google’s security update.
I think MIUI 7 got one of the best UI skin over the top of stock android when compared to Samsung TouchWiz or the LG UX.
Redmi Note 3 packs a non-removable 4050mAh Li-Polymer battery, that almost good for a day usage. With the added power saving in MIUI 7, background activities of apps are restricted, Wi-Fi, mobile networks, or location services are used only when needed and according to Xiaomi, more than 500 scenarios are adjusted to save battery.
During my month long usage with a single SIM (Airtel 4G) and moderate daily use, I usually get a day-long battery life.
The usage includes four-five hours of Internet browsing including watching videos on YouTube, two hours of voice calls, two-three hours of listening to music and one-hour gaming (small games). The phone was on the 4G network and used both the network and WiFi for connecting to the internet. Still, the battery got lots of juice left for rest of the day.
In the case of emergency, I can easily extend the battery life by switching on the Battery Saver mode. I once tried it when the battery was low at 12% and almost got the phone functional for another four to six hours.
Should you buy?
Redmi Note 3 packs everything you need in a mid-range smartphone from premium design, good performance, better and bigger battery, fingerprint sensor, highly-customizable MIUI 7 and 4G LTE with VoLTE.
The negative part is on the photography front, with the camera not so good during low-light condition. Also, the mobile runs on an older android operating system (Android v5.1 Lollipop). But we can expect Xiaomi to bring the android Marshmallow support in the coming months.
Redmi Note 3 is one of the best value for money smartphone currently available in the Indian market. While it comes in two variant, I would highly recommend the 3GB RAM/32GB storage variant that been priced at Rs 11,999. As it offers more room for your multimedia contents and offers much better performance.